Workout Report: Big Dumbbells At Play

Posted: May 23, 2011 in kettlebells, Workout Reports

Hey, Cave Folk. Hope you’re well, and your locale has provided you with some actual sunny days as Spring progresses. As I alluded to in the recap of Saturday’s fun and games, I jumped in and did squats with relatively considerable weight. Yeah, your caveman here’s been walking like a stiff-leg gunslinger ever since.

Seems there are some angles in which the squat is more effective at hitting the quadriceps muscle than anything I’ve been doing. It’s cool. The fact that it had a serious impact means that it worked, and needs to be part of the heavy rotation. I figured, however, that I’d better limber up a little if I’m to pull with a purpose tomorrow. Besides, I had yet to really play with my big 90 lb Iron Grip dumbbells. (If you haven’t seen ’em, look for a prior post called “New Toys.”)

After overhead presses, one of the first exercises I’d thought about doing with the big new ‘bells was suitcase deadlift. Since I am going to be deadlifting “for reals” tomorrow, I didn’t want to go crazy, but I tried a few. Nice. It’s a long pull. The biggest problem would be keeping your lumbar spine in the right attitude when you got tired. I went on to other things.

Before there was such a thing as a bench press, there was an exercise called a floor press. It’s a little bit less range of motion, but since you’re not able to use your legs to load your spine, it’s still pretty tough. The floor press is just like it sounds. You lay on the floor, and you press the weight up. It’s often done with a barbell, but it’s not really very easy to do by yourself. It’s hard to pick up a productive amount of weight without a spotter, and even more difficult to put it back down safely. I thought that I might be able to get both 90s in position, but I found that it wasn’t happening.

Never one to be deterred by logical constraints, I did one arm at a time, assisting to get into position, then hanging onto the unused dumbbell to stabilize my body. It worked just keen. Even with just 90/side, this exercise was no joke. I did 3×10 on both sides, and by the last set, I was starting to struggle a little. When you’ve got a 90 pound chunk of iron above your face, you don’t want to get too cavalier about it.

One thing to note. Trying to do overhead press after floor press is going to doom you to failure if you’re hoping to do somewhere near your limit. I quickly understood that I wasn’t going to have any luck pressing the 90s overhead after burning up the anterior deltiod muscles doing floor press. A goof has to try. And fail, most often.

From here, I went to rows. Why not do Pendlays with dumbbells? I couldn’t thing of a reason. I gripped the weight with both hands and did a light set of tens to the chest (like t-bar rows), then did five reps/hand with both feet on the ground and only the opposing hand on my knee for support. Not quite like the barbell, but a darned good exercise. I did the preliminary, light rows with each set, and went for three sets.

I had also considered short range of motion sumo deadlift with the dumbbell sitting on its end. You hook one of the ends with both hands and just stand up. It’s really almost completely a glute/hip exercise. I did a set of twenty, and felt it in said location. Problem? Well, when your hands are getting sweaty, it’s easy to fumble the ‘bell, and 90lbs on your foot is no good. This time, I was quick enough to get out of the way. I’ll be more careful next time, or perhaps not get too attached to this exercise.

From here, I did 3×5 of my “Irish Mike” curls, which always seem to pump my whole upper body like a mad bastard. 90 is as much as I’ve done/arm since my college days, and it seemed to come up fine. Not that it was easy…and I want to stress that Irish Mikes are what people would consider “cheat” hammer curls. I think they’re a very useful movement, but if you’re looking at me and asking, “can this guy do 90s, really?” the answer is no. I don’t max out on supinating dumbbell curls, primarily because it would hurt the heck out of my creaky elbows, but also because that’s  not really a big concern to me. I don’t do the Irish Mikes to look cool, I do them to move as much weight as possible with my arms, thus strengthening a movement that will be handy when wrestling with sandbags and other evil implements.

I then threw a 90 overhead and did triceps extensions/french curls with it, these 3×12, because ten would have been too easy.

Sweating all over, I then did some fooling around with the kettlebell. You would imagine that going from 90s to a 53 pound k-bell would feel very easy. Yeah, sure, while you’re carrying it over to your spot. Once you start swinging it around, not so much. I am trying to get the hang of the clean, holding the k-bell in “the rack”, and the snatch. I did quite a few of all of these, as well as doing military presses from the rack position, which are sort of like “Arnold Presses”, in that they start from a neutral position below your chin, fan out, then press to lockout. Of everything I did with the k-bell, this was the only exercise that looked like it was supposed to. Ah, well. It was an exercise where I could “muscle it”, rather than using quickness and finesse.

It should be noted that I’m sort of long on muscle, but pretty short on quickness or finesse, at least with the k-bell. Still, you can’t learn if you don’t biff around with them.

The workout left me sweaty as a draft horse, and my body was pumped like crazy. For a quick, 45 minute blast in the gym at work, it was pretty darned awesome.

I love my new toys. I didn’t touch anything else in the whole gym, except for the empty Olympic bar, which I used to stretch my shoulders (and nearly take out one of the lights…oops!). It was fun doing some exercises that you don’t see anyone doing anymore, and to find them so fun and effective.

Happy Lifting!


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